COLUMBUS – It was so good, so chock-full of drama, it should be replayed on Pay-per-view.
It’s only fitting that Galion heavyweight Deaken McCoy and old rival Troy Caldwell, of Jonathan Alder, literally took center stage in Ohio State’s Value City Arena on Saturday night.
It’s only fitting they were the last two wrestlers standing after three days of state tournament competition on 10 mats, in three divisions and involving 672 qualifiers in a total of 1,260 matches.
It’s only fitting these last two combatants drained every last second off of the clock in their Division II championship match: 360 seconds in regulation and 150 more in four overtimes.
There is no fifth OT.
Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao would have had a hard time following this act.
The lasting image will be of Caldwell holding onto McCoy’s left leg for dear life, applying a death grip that kept McCoy from getting free in the final, frenetic seconds of Caldwell’s 3-2 victory in the ultimate tiebreaker.
It not only settled a score between the two, but matched the score of their other two meetings. Caldwell beat McCoy, 3-2, in the finals of the Marion County Invitational, and fortunes were reversed when McCoy nipped Caldwell, 3-2, in the finals of the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference tournament.
Maybe they are so evenly matched because they both come at it from the same perspective. McCoy qualified for state the previous two years at 220 pounds. Caldwell was a 2014 state champ at 220. They both proved they could fill bigger shoes.
“I think it does (have something to do with our close matches),” McCoy said. “If I had to lose, I’m glad it was to him because he’s a nice kid and he deserves it. I’m happy for him.”
McCoy was up 2-1 after the second overtime but, when Caldwell chose down for the third extra period, McCoy kicked him out to make it 2-2. A buzz swept through the arena. You don’t customarily see a wrestler willingly give up a lead — especially in overtime.
Still tied after the third OT, McCoy had the choice to start the fourth extra period. McCoy got to his feet from the bottom, but Caldwell kept just enough of a grip on McCoy’s left leg to keep him from being awarded the decisive escape.
“(Caldwell) took our offense away, but ultimately it turned out the way we wanted, with Deaken having the choice at the end. It just didn’t work out,” Galion coach Brent Tyrrell said. “That’s as close to a state championship as you can get.”
Three meetings this season decided by a total of three points? Are there two more evenly-matched wrestlers in Ohio?
“I said beforehand it was going to be another close match,” said McCoy, who predicted 24 hours earlier it would be two bulls going at each other. “He had a good game plan. He didn’t give me a chance to get his arm. He stayed solid the whole time.”
Galion assistant and former head coach Matt Tyrrell also applauded Caldwell’s tactics.
“He kept putting his forehead where Deaken couldn’t get to his underhook,” Tyrrell said of a common clinch where a wrestler puts an arm under his opponent’s arm and holds the opponent’s midsection or upper body. “There’s where Deaken had been scoring a lot of his points in this tournament.”
As for strategically giving up the lead in OT, Brent Tyrrell said McCoy hadn’t wasted any energy wrestling from on top the entire tournament, and he wasn’t going to start Saturday night with a title in the balance.
“We had already been warned for stalling and had two cautions, and we didn’t want to lose the opportunity to win it (from the bottom) in the next period,” Tyrrell said. “We’re not second-guessing that at all.”